While you’re here today, join my SAT prep email list for pro tips on how to get your best score and other subscriber-only exclusive content!
“Error Identification” is the name of a series of questions in the SAT Writing multiple-choice sections.
If you’ve taken the test before, you’ll know it as the type of grammar question in which you don’t have to fix or improve a sentence, you only have to identify if there is a grammar mistake or not, and if there is, you must additionally identify where in the sentence it occurs, by selecting from four underlined words or phrases.
Here’s what such a question might look like. Go ahead now and find the mistake, if there is one: You are only responsible for noticing that Choice C, “than that,” contains an error.
You don’t need to know that “than those” is how to fix the error, or understand the explanation that “that” is singular, so it can’t refer to “the hands and feet,” which is plural.
While this knowledge certainly helps you achieve a higher SAT Writing score, and I think you should know it and understand it, but even if your ear just notices that Choice C sounds really wrong, you could decide to pick it, and you would get the question right, no questions asked.
That’s kind of nice!
Nevertheless, some SAT prep students hate this section, and I think I know why – it’s the “NO ERROR” choice.
I can completely relate to this hatred (even though Error ID is my favorite part of the writing section – more on this later).
Get Exclusive SAT Prep Tips!
I want to send you more tips to help your SAT score, but I need your email address to stay in touch. Enter your email below so I can send you my reports on the SAT and other subscriber-only bonuses.
It’s scary to take the test and choose “NO ERROR” – you might want to second-guess every underlined phrase in the question, or you might think “No way is the answer No Error; why would they even ask if there wasn’t something wrong with the sentence?” It’s just not as satisfying as actually finding a mistake and circling it!
There’s also a really important, really common incorrect assumption that students make about the “No Error” choice.
When I ask, as I always do, “How often do you think ‘No Error’ is the right choice,” almost everyone guesses low. I hear “10% of the time” pretty frequently. NOPE! Choice E, “No Error,” is just as often correct as any of the other four choices A through D!
I think you’d agree with me that you don’t have some ridiculous bias against choosing Choice B, or anything like that – so if the previous description fits you, you need to start retraining yourself to expect to pick “No Error” a little more often.
About 20% of questions are “No Error.” (Also, I think it’s important not to try and “Game the Statistics,” or make guesses based on how many times you think a letter should be chosen. Just treat each question as its own independent grammar island with no relation to the question before or after it. Trying to get “tricky” with the system doesn’t help – only studying your grammar will help!)
Now, why do I love the Identifying Sentence Errors section of the Writing test?
Because it’s quick and clean. There’s no terrible piles of words to wade through, just short 3- or 4- line sentences. There’s no need to explain your choice, or to find a better option.
And, when you’ve learned the Top 12 Grammar Topics on the SAT and done enough Error Identification practice problems, the errors will just LEAP out at you! You’ll get a bunch of quick and easy points and raise your SAT Writing score through the roof if you master this section.
Ok – your next question better be “Well, what are the ‘top 12 grammar topics on the SAT?’ If I just knew what they were, I could study and practice them and ace the Writing section!”
Nice question! As it turns out, I wrote an AWESOME book all about it!
Keep in mind I’ve gotten TWO perfect 800s on the SAT Writing section, and I’ve taught SAT prep professionally for over a thousand hours at this point, to more than 60 high school students. I promise – I know my stuff.
And, I put in a LOT of time to this book – I spend over 100 hours planning, outlining, writing, refining, and editing (which, at my hourly rate, is literally worth $5000+ dollars!)
My students always give me compliments on it when we work from this textbook, and I’ve seen it improve their scores from 50-150 points in only a few hours of practice!
It’s particularly aimed towards students in the 350-650 score range on the SAT Writing section.
If you’ve read this far, you should absolutely purchase your copy today – it’s inexpensive and you will download it instantly!
Alright – I want you to click over to The Top 12 SAT Writing Grammar Rules and start studying today!
Believe me, you won’t regret it! (and if you did regret it for some crazy reason, it has a 100% refund policy, no questions asked!) I hope you enjoy it and learn from it!
SAT Grammar Crammer: Top 12 SAT Writing Grammar Rules (e-Book)